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Do the Poor Pay More for Food? Item Selection and Price Differences Affect Low-Income Household Food Costs

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Author Info

  • Kaufman, Phillip R.
  • MacDonald, James M.
  • Lutz, Steve M.
  • Smallwood, David M.

Abstract

Low-income households may face higher food prices for three reasons: (1) on average, low-income households may spend less in supermarkets--which typically offer the lowest prices and greatest range of brands, package sizes, and quality choices; (2) low-income households are less likely to live in suburban locations where food prices are typically lower; and (3) supermarkets in low-income neighborhoods may charge higher prices than those in nearby higher income neighborhoods. Despite the prevailing higher prices, surveys of household food expenditures show that low-income households typically spend less than other households, on a per unit basis, for the foods they buy. Low-income households may realize lower costs by selecting more economical foods and lower quality items. In areas where food choices are limited due to the kinds and locations of foodstores, households may have sharply higher food costs.

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File URL: http://purl.umn.edu/34065
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service in its series Agricultural Economics Reports with number 34065.

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Date of creation: 1997
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Handle: RePEc:ags:uerser:34065

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Related research

Keywords: Food Consumption/Nutrition/Food Safety; Food Security and Poverty;

References

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  1. Deaton, Angus, 1987. "Estimation of own- and cross-price elasticities from household survey data," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 36(1-2), pages 7-30.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Larry Howard & Nishith Prakash, 2011. "Do School Lunch Subsidies Change the Dietary Patterns of Children from Low- Income Households?," CReAM Discussion Paper Series 1101, Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM), Department of Economics, University College London.
  2. Caitlin Knowles Myers & Grace Close & Laurice Fox & John William Meyer & Madeline Niemi, 2009. "Retail Redlining: Are gasoline prices higher in poor and minority neighborhoods?," Middlebury College Working Paper Series 0906, Middlebury College, Department of Economics.
  3. Mark Aguiar & Erik Hurst, 2007. "Life-Cycle Prices and Production," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(5), pages 1533-1559, December.
  4. Stewart, Hayden & Blisard, Noel, 2006. "Household versus Community Effects: Who Really Pays More for Food?," 2006 Annual meeting, July 23-26, Long Beach, CA 21053, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
  5. Rhodes, Andrew, 2011. "Multiproduct pricing and the Diamond Paradox," MPRA Paper 32511, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  6. Gibson, John & Kim, Bonggeun, 2013. "Do the urban poor face higher food prices? Evidence from Vietnam," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 193-203.
  7. Mark Aguiar & Erik Hurst, 2005. "Lifestyle prices and production," Public Policy Discussion Paper 05-3, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
  8. Timothy K. M. Beatty, 2008. "Expenditure dispersion and dietary quality: evidence from Canada," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 17(9), pages 1001-1014.
  9. Rachel Meltzer & Jenny Schuetz, 2010. "Bodegas or Bagel Shops? Neighborhood Differences in Retail & Household Services," Working Paper 33, USC Lusk Center for Real Estate.
  10. King, Robert P. & Leibtag, Ephraim S. & Behl, Ajay S., 2004. "Supermarket Characteristics And Operating Costs In Low-Income Areas," 2004 Annual meeting, August 1-4, Denver, CO 20361, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
  11. Jetter, Karen M. & Cassady, Diana, 2004. "Explaining Disparities In The Cost Of Healthier Food," 2004 Annual meeting, August 1-4, Denver, CO 20181, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
  12. Leibtag, Ephraim S., 2006. "The Impact of Nontraditional Retailers on Retail Dairy Prices and the Dairy CPI," 2006 Annual meeting, July 23-26, Long Beach, CA 21294, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
  13. Christian Broda & Ephraim Leibtag & David E. Weinstein, 2009. "The Role of Prices in Measuring the Poor's Living Standards," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 23(2), pages 77-97, Spring.
  14. Leschewski, Andrea Marie & Weatherspoon, Dave D., 2014. "Fast Food Restaurant Pricing Strategies in Michigan Food Deserts," International Food and Agribusiness Management Review, International Food and Agribusiness Management Association (IAMA), vol. 17(A).
  15. Leibtag, Ephraim S., 2006. "The Impact Of Big-Box Stores On Retail Food Prices And The Consumer Price Index," Economic Research Report 7238, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
  16. Stewart, Hayden & Dong, Diansheng, 2011. "Variation in retail costs for fresh vegetables and salty snacks across communities in the United States," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(2), pages 128-135, April.
  17. Wendt, Minh & Kinsey, Jean D. & Kaufman, Phillip R., 2008. "Food Accessibility in the Inner City: What Have We Learned, A Literature Review 1963-2006," Working Papers 37625, University of Minnesota, The Food Industry Center.

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